ROME – A large mural depicting Australian Cardinal George Pell shadowed by a demonic figure while handcuffed and wearing a prison tracksuit appeared on Tuesday about 50 yards away from the Vatican.
The mural is the work of Australian artist Scott Marsh, well known in his country for his oversized and over-the-top murals of public figures. Marsh posted a video on Instagram showing the Pell mural with the hashtag #locationlocationlocation.
The goal of the mural, Marsh said in an interview with the Australian news outlet SBS News, “is to highlight the hypocrisy of the Church and combat its attempts to sweep under the rug its past abuses.”
The artist named his work “Prey Round Two” on Instagram.
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This isn’t the first time Marsh created a mural depicting a repented Pell. His first rendition was only a few feet away from St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, Australia, which was also a stone’s throw from the cardinal’s former residence. Following complaints, the artwork in Sydney was removed last week, before popping up again in Rome.
“Once it became apparent the [first] mural had been removed due to complaints from the Church, I knew I had to re-create somewhere,” Marsh said.
“I thought, what better location than Rome, the home of Vatican City?”
Pell is currently appealing a verdict that found him guilty of the sexual abuse against two minors in the 1990s. He has staunchly asserted his innocence, and took a leave of absence from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State in June 2017 to answer the charges in his native Australia.
In February 2019, Pell’s term ended for his Vatican post; he was not re-appointed by Pope Francis. The pontiff had removed him from his council of cardinal advisers, also known as the C9, a year prior.
Marsh said that the initial reaction by Italian passersby was “in support of the mural.”
“The Italian people I spoke to share the same disgust with the Church abuses as many Australians,” he said.
Father Francesco, a priest from a nearby church, said that while he’s not heard any reaction to the mural from parishioners, he found the legal process that led to Pell’s conviction “disgusting” and believes in his innocence.
He hopes the mural will be removed “soon.”
John Allen contributed to this report.
Follow Claire Giangravè on Twitter: @ClaireGiangrave
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